In every subject, students are learning to...

a student writes
  • Understand complex topics
  • Express and build on ideas
  • Collaborate
  • Construct viable arguments
  • Critique others’ reasoning

All of this starts with a practice called close reading. Close reading happens when readers use clues and evidence from a text to answer questions. By reading closely, children are more likely to comprehend the material. This is a very important skill for success in school, college, career and community!


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Here are some examples of questions that build close reading skills:

Finding Key Ideas and Details

  • What happened in the story?
  • How do you know?
  • What is something really important that happened?
  • What does this (word or phrase) mean in the article?

Encouraging words increase a young reader’s motivation and reinforce close reading.

  • “Wow! You know right where to find that information in the story!”
  • “I learned a lot by reading with you.”

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Speak Out and Write On

Close reading doesn’t just help kids become better readers. It also helps them become better communicators—writers, listeners and speakers.

That’s because close reading is intimately connected to argument construction and writing. When students use close reading to thoroughly understand a text—whether a Shakespeare sonnet, a biology text or a lesson on fractions—they can use their knowledge to build strong arguments.

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It All Adds Up

Reading closely, constructing viable arguments, critiquing others’ reasoning and using academic language are also practices of proficient math students.

To help students develop these skills, a math teacher might:

  • ask students to explain and discuss their thinking processes aloud
  • use a hand signal to agree or disagree with a strategy
  • give multiple approaches to a problem and ask students describe which ones are rational and why

Errors can be opportunities for learning!

Successful math students can struggle productively and are comfortable changing their approach and trying new strategies if they don’t get the answer right the first time.

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